APEDA to oppose Madhya Pradesh's inclusion as basmati region for GI tag

Says inclusion of the state may impact primary farmers in northern India

By Jyotika Sood
Published: Thursday 30 January 2014

Basmati rice The apex body for monitoring India's agricultural exports, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Agency (APEDA), has decided to oppose the inclusion of Madhya Pradesh areas in its basmati rice zone.  Farmers of central India are fighting a case demanding Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the basmati they grow. Only the basmati grown in northern states currently have GI.

The decision by APEDA has been taken in response to GI assistant registrar Chinnaraja G Naidu's order of December 31. The GI registry had asked APEDA to file an amended GI application and include the uncovered areas of Madhya Pradesh, with map of the region which clearly demarcates the area of production, within 60 days from the date of the order.
In a media statement, Asit Tripathi, chairperson of APEDA, said a  reply will be filed with the GI registry opposing inclusion of regions of Madhya Pradesh as APEDA is the custodian of GI on behalf of basmati farmers in the north, who would be hit hard by inclusion of central India.

Basmati is grown and produced primarily by farmers in northern India who get a premium for growing this specific rice as it is highly priced at over Rs 150 per kg. But with inclusion of central India, the supply would increase and the prices are likely to come down. Besides, the quality of rice would also become an issue and may hit exports, say officials.

The ongoing case pertains to August 2011, when farmers in Madhya Pradesh along with the state government and some rice processing companies had filed an application opposing GI for basmati rice to the northern region comprising states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and western parts of Uttar Pradesh. The applicants had claimed that basmati rice, which is a long and aromatic rice variety, was grown in central India comprising Madhya Pradesh from the period prior to India's Independence.
The farmers claimed that the state being located in the Indo-Gangetic plains has climatic conditions conducive to cultivation of basmati rice and that the basmati they grow is similar to what is grown in northern states which currently have GI. They argued that a large number of farmers of Madhya Pradesh have been growing basmati rice by both traditional and new techniques and that non-inclusion of the state as a basmati growing area will have an adverse effect on the lives of farmers of the region who are mainly dependent on basmati cultivation. Besides, it will also affect the export potential, which will indirectly reduce the country’s turnover from the export of basmati.

India is one of the leading exporters of basmati rice in the global market and exported around 3.5 million tonnes of it worth Rs 19,409.39 crore in  2012-13. The major export destinations for basmati rice are Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq and Kuwait.

The main varieties of basmati rice notified in India are Basmati 386, Basmati 217, Ranbir Basmati, Karnal Local/ Taraori Basmati, Basmati 370, Type-3 (Dehradooni Basmati), Pusa Basmati-1, Pusa Basmati 1121, Punjab Basmati-1, Haryana Basmati- 1, Kasturi and Mahi Sugandha.


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